Wenzel and Kulas crack top 5 at the Kingsford Invitational
By JOHN VRANCIC
For the Daily News
IRON MOUNTAIN — Gladstone sophomore Drew Hughes gave chase but couldn’t quite capture top honors in the Kingsford Flivver Invitational cross country meet here Tuesday.
Marquette sophomore Carson Vanderschaaf, who held off Hughes for the title on this sunny, warm and windy day at Iron Mountain City Park, covered the hilly 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 46.8 seconds.
“I just went out with the leaders,” said Hughes, who was clocked at 17:49.2. “I didn’t really feel the wind in the woods and it helped having it on our backs coming in. There were a lot of hills halfway through the race, which was the hardest part. I just tried to keep a steady pace which I did. I’m pleased with my time.”
Marquette, which placed five in the top 10, won with 28 points. The Redmen were followed by Houghton 59, Gladstone 67, Menominee 124 and Escanaba 148.
“We ran pretty well,” said Marquette coach Kyle Detmers. “This is a tough course. It was quite warm today, although it’s normally like a furnace when we come here. The Houghton boys and girls looked good and the Gladstone boys are coming on. It was good to get another meet in. We had a good day.”
The two leaders were followed by Houghton junior Eric Weiss (18:04.4) and Marquette sophomore Colin Vanderschaff (18:16.1) and junior Luke Janofski (18:16.5).
Houghton senior Branden Peterson placed sixth (18:46.8) and Ewen-Trout Creek junior Jonah Nordine was seventh (18:50).
“Eric had a real nice race and Branden had a good race, but told me he struggled a little,” said Houghton coach Traci Welch. “This time, the boys were closer to Marquette, although they still look very strong.”
The Marquette girls also won with 50 points and Houghton edged Kingsford 66-68 for runner-up honors.
Houghton junior Ingrid Seagren earned top honors in 21:22.6, followed by Marquette senior Olivia Moffitt (21:37.7) and Kingsford senior Melanie Wenzel (22:08.8).
“I’m happy with my time,” said Seagren. “This is more than a minute faster than I had here last year. I went out a little too hard at Marquette (Sept. 4) and decided to go out a little slower today. Although, I knew I was going to have to run hard no matter what. It was real exciting to win down here. There was a lot of good competition and our team did well. We were real close to Marquette.”
Houghton junior Paige Sleeman placed fourth (22:13), with Kingsford senior Sarah Kulas fifth (22:14.8).
“I think the girls ran closer together today,” said Welch. “Marquette has a strong team. Kingsford is right on our tail and Sault, of course, is the great unknown. Paige ran a real good race and we’ve had a lot of movement among the fifth, sixth and seventh spots. The girls are very competitive with each other. I think this is a confidence builder for them.”
Kulas said she was also happy with her time.
“I tried to work with Mel and little bit and keep pace with her,” she added. “We run together everyday in practice. It’s always easier to have someone to run with. It was really dry out there and the breeze made it challenging at times.”
Ewen-Trout Creek senior Elise Besonen, a 2019-20 All U.P. Dream Team and All-State basketball player, finished 12th (23:23.6)
“I thought I ran pretty well,” said Besonen. “It was a challenging course, but we ran mostly in the woods and the wind wasn’t too had. This is the first time we’ve run on this course. It was a good change-up. I really liked it. We hadn’t had a meet in three weeks, but we also play volleyball which kind of keeps us going.”
Marquette 28, Houghton 59, Gladstone 67, Menominee 124, Escanaba 148, Stephenson 163, Negaunee 177, Rapid River 189, Norway 219, West Iron County 238. Kingsford and Ewen-Trout Creek NTS.
Marquette 50, Houghton 66, Kingsford 68, Negaunee 97, Gladstone 129, Menominee 145, Stephenson 167, West Iron County 181. Escanaba, Ewen-Trout Creek, Rapid River and Norway NTS.
Top 5 — 1, Ingrid Seagren, Houghton, 21:22.6; 2, Olivia Moffit, Marquette, 21:37.7; 3, Melanie Wenzel, Kingsford, 22:08.8; 4, Paige Sleeman, Houghton, 22:13; 5, Sarah Kulas, Kingsford, 22:14.8.
Kingsford coach Dan Carey noted prior to the season that this meet would have a strong field of runners in it. He also had a few comments about the team and the upcoming season.
“I am looking forward to working with this year’s runners. They have been working really hard all summer long and into the start of the season. They are excited to be together practicing, since they had no track season last spring due to COVID-19. We have a strong nucleus of runners from last season’s team and will need the younger runners to step up to fill the open spots left from the graduating class. The next few weeks we will get into the rhythm of balancing school, training, and the start of the competitive season,” said Carey.
The co-ed Flivver team, is also a co-op with neighboring Iron Mountain. Kingsford’s next meet is Sept. 24 at the Stephenson Invitational.
Knights have small, hard-working roster
Norway also competed in the event, with their very small roster of six total runners.
Returning runners, senior Jeffrey Van Holla, juniors Alex Linsenbigler, Drew Anderson. Along with sophomore Brent Lagina. New comer to the team this year is senior Brandon Dishaw. The lone girl on the Knights roster is returner sophomore Taylor Adams.
“We will be decent, the kids work hard,” said Norway coach Rae Anne Seat. “I am looking for some good times from VanHolla, and Adams has shaved some time off from last season.” The Knights next action is also in the Stephenson Invitational with the Flivvers on Sept. 24.
Daily News Sports Writer Matt “Sweets” McCarthy contributed to this story.
Melanie Wenzel (Varsity)
Sarah Kulas (Varsity)
Gabby Carey (Varsity)
Luke Ruble (Varsity)
Joey Wentarmini (Varsity)
Bailey Broecker (Varsity)
Taylor DeMay (Varsity)
John Goupell (Varsity)